La Vita Mia

Wow. Seems like I’ve written about courage a lot in recent months. It’s been good; it’s helped me think, and I’ve been grateful for the insight of my readers and (often) moral support. ❤

But all that leaves me here without a lot left to say on the subject. I have always before been very lucky and had (sometimes desperate) necessity to propel me along. I’m good in a crisis. I find courage is a lot, uh, scarier, than necessity.


It requires choice. With necessity there’s no “Oh, fuck it,” option. With courage there is.

For me right now courage is exerting my will, mind, desires against a bearable status quo. It has required looking at the world differently, looking at myself differently. It’s luxurious, in a way, to have options. I can continue to walk with a limp, to be looked at with pity, to be unable to do things I love, to regard riding a stationary bicycle as a “sport,” OR I can have hip surgery. I can look at the life ahead of me and say, “Oh well, the best is behind me anyway,” or I can work toward — hope for — something else.

With necessity, you don’t have to look at anything except the consequence hanging in front of you if you don’t act. Now I have to look ahead and consider what I WANT and who I AM. Whoa.

Yeah, I know, poor me. 😀

Visiting Han-Tan: The Dancers at the Southern Pavilion

They sang to me and drummed, the boys of Yen and Chao
Lovely girls plucked the sounding string
Their painted cheeks shone like dazzling suns;
The dancers’ sleeves shook out like blossoming boughs.
Bringing her wine, I approached a handsome girl
And made her sing me songs of Han-tan.
Then lutes were played, and coiling away and away
The tune fell earthward, dropping from the grey clouds.
Where is the Prince of Chao, what has he left
But an old castle-moat where tadpoles breed?
Those three thousand knights that sat at his board
Is there one among them whose name is still known?
Let us make merry, get something in our own day
To set against the pity of ages still unborn.

Li-Bai (trans. Arthur Waley)

“You’re Going to Ski???!?”



See the blue skis with the word “Wax” on them? I bought them today for $30. They’re nearly 30 years old. I owned a pair just like them in a faraway land known as Denver. I skied on them a lot AND (here’s the madness) I took them with me to the People’s Republic of China. Yeah. OK that “might” not be totally insane (I think it is), but I was living on the Tropic of Cancer.

After a year in the tropics, the skis came back to Denver in time for one of the snowiest winters in history, a winter so snowy that Colfax Avenue, one of the biggest main streets in America, was carved into two lanes with a wall of snow between them. There were days when X-country skis were the one sure way to get around town. The mayor at the time — Peña — was taking flack from everyone over his apparent inability to get the snow plows out.

The skis moved with me to California where they had some pretty decent adventures. Once was with a bunch of colleagues. Everything California was alien and the 18 inches that had landed in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego gave me a chance to be myself. Back then I was “Ms. Ski Wax America,” and I was very proud of my back-country skis. My colleagues had skis but waxless, fish-scale, skis (like the prettier, narrower, slightly newer ones in the photo). I could have taken my fish scale skis (simpler) but I brought my back-country skis because I loved them, partly, and partly for the overall coolness effect.

One of my colleagues, a very overweight know-it-all type with fish-scale skis that were too short for his weight, borrowed some wax from me — red wax. First you don’t wax fish-scale skis. Second, red wax wouldn’t make his skis faster; it’s sticky; it’s good for climbing hills. When he was “ready,” he pointed his skis down the steep hill and didn’t move at all. Those skis had been conditioned to HOLD ON to the mountain. That was fun to watch, and he was a good sport about it. I helped him clean off his skis and things went a little better for him; not much, though. His weight pushed the fish scales down so hard they were gripping the snow. We went up and down a decent hill and then came home.

On those skis, I skied around the back side of Cuyamaca Peak where I saw cougar tracks for the first time. They skied up Mt. Palomar and back down again. It was really something to see the great, white telescope domes in the snow. As we skied down the unplowed road (a lot easier than it had been skiing five miles up the manzanita plagued trail) we passed a family who’d come up to “see the snow” a California family with a beach umbrella, beach chairs, a cooler. As we whooped our way down, a kid called out, “Hey mom! That’s what we should do!”

They skied up the PCT to the Garnet Peak Trail (no way to ski up the Garnet Peak Trail itself), accepting the constant challenge of close hedges of manzanita scrub on both sides.

And then… Life changed and the skis went to the Goodwill.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to lunch with friends then — as an adventure — we visited the flea market, and I saw these skis in the back room. My heart skipped several beats. Of course they’re not “my” skis, but they are my skis. Without thinking I reached for them and cradled them against my shoulder like old friends. My friend Elizabeth looked at me with so much compassion, “Are you going to ski, Martha?” she asked.

I told them I once had skis just like them, and put them back against the wall. Of course I’ve thought about them for the past two weeks. Today, I went to look at them. Thirty bucks. I put them together and carried them to the cash register. The couple that mans one of the shops in the flea market looked at me and said, “You’re going to SKI?” The couple is around my age, I guess. And of course I limp and often use a cane.

I explained I used to have a pair of skis just like them. And I said, “Yep. I’m going to ski. Maybe not this year, but, yeah.”

“Watch out for avalanches,” said the wife.

“Yeah, well, I think it’ll just be the golf course.” I really have no illusions about this.

“The golf course?” she looked at me bewildered.

“Yeah,” I said. “When there’s enough snow they groom it for cross country skiing. It’s beautiful. And I live right beside it.”

“It’s good exercise,” she said. I nodded. It’s more than that, but that’s fine. It is. “You need poles.”

“I have poles at home.”

“Good luck!” they both called out as I left the store.

“Thanks,” I said, “and thanks for the moral support.”

“We hope you do it,” said the husband, a former alcoholic whose life story I became familiar with on my second visit there. My little heart glowed.

“I’ll let you know.”

You can see in the featured photo that one of them (the bottom one) is pretty badly delaminated; the other one only slightly at the tip. That made me relate to them even more. I’m delaminated. When I got home, and had looked them over good, seeing that it didn’t seem hopeless, I called the local ski store. I told them I’d bought a pair of old cross-country skis that were somewhat delaminated, and asked if they could repair them. I’ll have to take them in; maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, the skis are here and I’m glad.

I also did a little research yesterday when I was so down about things. This is what I learned in a professional paper about skiing after total hip replacement. It made me a lot more hopeful about everything.

“2 groups of 50 patients each, matched for age, weight, height, gender and type of implant, were clinically and radiographically examined after THR (total hip replacement). Group A regularly carried out alpine skiing and/or cross-country skiing, while group B did no winter sports. At 5 years, no signs of loosening were found in group A, whereas 5/60 implants in group B had signs of loosening, mostly of the femoral component (p < 0.05). At 10 years, 30 patients remained in group A and 27 in group B. No new cases of loosening were found in group B, but 2/30 cases in group A. There was a higher (p < 0.05) average wear rate in group A (2.1 mm) than in group B (1.5 mm). The wear rate was particularly high (3-4 mm) in physically very active patients in group A with localized osteolysis at the interface. It seems likely that in an even longer follow-up, the number of cases of aseptic loosening would be greater in group A than group B. Our findings, combined with the results of previously-published biomechanical studies, do not provide any evidence that controlled alpine and/ or cross-country skiing has a negative effect on the acetabular or femoral component of hip replacements. The results of the biomechanical studies indicate, however, that it is advantageous to avoid short-radius turns on steep slopes or moguls.”
PMID: 10919294 DOI: 10.1080/000164700317411825 

Since I’ve never done short-radius turns on steep slopes or skied moguls, this is good news.

There’s also the question, “What’s the point of life?” I’ve actually figured out the answer.

The point of life is to have a good time.


Lamont and Dude Debrief

“How’d it go?”

“It was all right. Thanks for hooking me up to that Youtube video of you at the museum.”

“No prob.”

“Did you watch the show?”


“What did you think?”

“I think it’s amazing we seem to be the only two living creatures who remember all that stuff.”

“I have thought that, too. But then I asked myself, ‘Have I ever remembered this stuff before?’ And no, I haven’t.”

“Me neither.”

“So how did this happen?”

“Do you think maybe it’s, you know, we’re just a couple of rubes who accidentally got hypnotized once when we were hanging out at the beach, Venice Beach maybe?”

“Maybe. Maybe it was something like that.”

“You know, maybe we were watching for the Green Ray and a hypnotist was there.”

“You know, Dude, it could have been a hypnotist, but maybe he was hypnotizing someone  so they could have a past life regression. In that case, it’s both real and artificially stimulated, you know?”

“Hmm. So it’s just coincidence that we happen to have been alive together all those times?”

“No, not really. It’s the paradox of the universe which is simultaneously infinite and finite. As you know, matter and energy are never lost.”




Lamont and his pal, Dude, are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Part One is Here

Part Two is Here

Part Three is Here

Part Four is Here

Spirit Guide

“Well, Lamont, before we wind this up, what are you and your friend, Dude, doing these days?”

“Dude got a weekend job at the La Brea Tarpits as a — you’ll never believe this — a Smilodon, that is, Saber Toothed Cat. It’s totally unbelievable, and I mean that literally. Little kids come up to him and pet him, and touch his fangs, and get their pictures taken with him. It’s Disney as hell. Dude says wearing that costume is like being in a furnace.”

“Wasn’t Dude once a Saber Toothed Cat?”

“He was.”

“So, if he knows how they act, shouldn’t he try to be, you know, authentic?”

“I don’t think that would go over very well with the kiddies. Too much blood. Saber toothed cats, you know. Besides, he IS authentic; authentic Dude. Dude’s a super friendly guy, always falling in love, thinks children are cute. I like him in spite of all that, but…”

“What do you two do in your free time? I know your lecturing keeps you on the road a lot, but other than wearing a Smilodon quadsuit, I mean, that can’t be a full-time job for Dude.”

“You’d be surprised. Dude works a lot, plus it’s a hell of a commute up the 405 every weekend.  And he surfs every day he’s not working, and he shapes boards parttime. We share payments on a house down in San Diego, on the boardwalk between Mission and PB, you know. Dude loves it. Lots of girls. Decent sets. Sometimes we head down to Sunset Cliffs.”

“Do you surf, too?”

“Yeah, but I’m not as deep into as Dude. Between us, and however many viewers are up watching this show at godawful o’clock in the still-dark am hours, I think he feels most like a Smilodon when he’s surfing.”

“Cats in the ocean?”

“It’s not about being a cat, Tom. It’s the spirit of the thing. You asked me earlier what my favorite incarnation was, well, Dude’s was probably the time he was a Smilodon.”

“Were you there for that?”

“Was I there? I was DINNER.”

“Where was that?”

“Up in what’s now LA, oddly enough, the La Brea Tarpits. Those were great times in a lot of ways. I liked the Ice Age. It was a long period, and I got to come around a couple of times. I had my first human iteration back then. Didn’t last long. Lots of really big animals — like myself. I was a Wooly Mammoth.”

“And Dude ATE you?”

“He had help. A pack of Dire Wolves and a couple of Smilodon ‘buddies’ though they — you know — cats aren’t really buddies. And, the tar pits. Nasty. Water on top, leaves, debris. Looks like a pond. It’s pretty easy for an unwary six ton animal to find himself in trouble — and those wolves were smart. They knew how to drive us in there. It was awful, no way around it. But that’s nature. Kill or be killed.”

“Does it have to be that way, though?”

“Seriously, Trish? Yes, it has to be that way. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s just how it is.”

“You could seriously kill someone, is that what you’re saying?”

“I don’t want to, not in this iteration, but you know, when Dude was a salmon and I was a hungry bear, sure, yeah.”

“We’re about out of time, Lamont. Do you have any words of wisdom or a message for our audience?”

“Not really, well, maybe this. Whoever or whatever you are today you were something else once and you’ll be something else again. Everything and everyone around you could’ve been you. Think about that.”

“Thanks, Lamont, for being on our show! I’m sure you’ve given our viewers, uh, food for thought. Be sure to catch Lamont’s podcasts and look for his TED talks!”



Part One is Here

Part Two is Here

Part Three is Here


Lamont and his pal, Dude, are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Food Not Food

“Sacreligious? How in the world… How is cannibalism ‘religious’?”

“That’s the heart of the question — no pun intended there, Trish. But you don’t want to discuss religion on your show, and I sure don’t blame you. Besides, we can’t bring a Druid chieftain on to explain the nature of their rites. Lets just say that human sacrifice has played a role in the big mono three, whether we like it or not.”

“Big mono three? Tom, do you have any idea what he’s talking about?”

“I’m going to change the subject here, Trish. I’m a little suspicious of the direction this is taking.”

“Thanks, Tom. I don’t think anyone wants to go where THIS is going.”

“Nor do I, Lamont. So your favorite iteration was an oak tree. Why was that?”

“Simple, Tom. When you’re an oak tree, you’re connected to every other oak tree for miles around. AND it’s likely you’re all brothers and sisters. The conversations are excellent. Overall, it’s a calm life with great company.”


“Sure. All oak trees are thoughtful observers of their immediate surroundings and they share their observations freely, factually, but sometimes with a small injection of humor.”

“You want me to believe oak trees are funny?”

“To other oak trees. You might not get the jokes. They tend to be dry and a little on the dark side.”

“Now you’re saying oak trees have a DARK sense of humor?”

“Well, yeah. It’s not a done deal by any means that when you fall from your mom, a tiny acorn, that into a mighty oak you will grow. There are a lot of factors over which you have no control. If you get there — big old oak tree status — you’ve seen a lot and you’ve survived. That’s not to say you will CONTINUE to survive. If you think about those Druid rituals, they often involved fire. As the saying goes, we always hurt the ones we love. I regard the perspective of the oak tree as one of wry compassion.”

“Wry compassion?”

“It’s not like we could run away, right? And those Druids? Druids do what Druids do. That’s how my time as an oak tree was cut short. It’s not just human sacrifice, sweet cheeks, though, in my times as a human being, I’ve come to understand humans’ species-centric view. It’s difficult to escape when you are human.”

“I understand you have a friend you’ve known through many of these past incarnations.”


“Does he remember as much as you do? Do you remember the same things? ”

“We often talk about our shared incarnations but, of course, we don’t remember everything, and we weren’t always together. One problem is that one animal is often food for another. Dude loves to talk about the time I was a woolly mammoth and he was a saber toothed tiger. I try not to bring up his short tenure as a salmon.”

“And you were???”

“A bear.”

To be continued…

Part One is Here

Part Two is Here


Lamont and his pal, Dude, are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

The Crocus Soliloquy

Down in my solitude under the snow,
Where nothing cheering can reach me;
Here, without light to see how to grow,
I’ll trust to nature to teach me.

I will not despair–nor be idle, nor frown,
Locked in so gloomy a dwelling;
My leaves shall run up, and my roots shall run down,
While the bud in my bosom is swelling.

Soon as the frost will get out of my bed,
From this cold dungeon to free me,
I will peer up with my little bright head,
And all will be joyful to see me.

Then from my heart will young petals diverge,
As rays of the sun from their focus;
I from the darkness of earth shall emerge,
A happy and beautiful Crocus!

Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower,
This little lesson may borrow,
Patient today, through its gloomiest hour,
We come out the brighter tomorrow.

Hannah Gould

Hannah Gould is not a famous American poet, BUT she was commonly published in Godey’s Lady’s Book and I found this poem here and was very happy to see Mrs. Gould again! I remember her well from my thesis writing days when I was reading issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book cover to cover. Mrs. Gould was one of editor Sarah Hale’s favorite poets, I think. Her work appeared a LOT and, as I recall, she was less given to post-mortem lamentations than were many of her contemporaries.

Anyway, the crocus are blooming in my garden and that’s a lovely thing.


Lamont Discourses on Feathers

“Today we’re excited to welcome Mr. Lamont. You might have heard his controversial podcast lectures and TED talks discussing reincarnation. Mr. Lamont, welcome to Mornings with Tom and Trish! I have to say, I didn’t know that you are STILL a velociraptor.”

“Thank you, Trish. Yeah, still a velociraptor, still an oak tree, still a salmon, grrrr, still a lot of things. It’s a costume, sweet cheeks.”

“So our picture up there, we pretty much got it wrong?”

“Basically accurate, Tom, but you know, what do you have to go by? Just a lot of funny rocks, right?”

“Yeah. But science…”

“Science is good. Better than non-science, that’s for sure.”

“So the feathers. I see you have feathers?”

“I told you, this is a costume. Velociraptors are extinct.”

“Right, but you’d know, right?”

“Well, yeah, but I’m not here to alter the course of scientific inquiry by giving out secrets of the late Cretaceous and, anyway, why should you believe me? Maybe I’m just a guy in a velociraptor costume making claims that you can’t prove or disprove, you know, like the existence of God?”

“Whoa, we have a strict rule that we do not discuss religion or politics on our show. We believe our viewers need a break from…”

“Real life?”

“What was your favorite incarnation, Mr. Lamont?”

“Just ‘Lamont’. I haven’t always been the male of the species, or even an animal, and sometimes I’ve been a single cell organism and you know how THEY reproduce, and for a while I was a flatworm, and, all that being the case, I just go with my name.”

“OK. So, what was your favorite?”

“Once I was an oak tree in an ancient British forest, worshipped by Druids.”

“Did you see a lot of human sacrifices?”

“I thought you didn’t want to talk about religion?”

“How is that religion?”

“It was the Druidic religion. You know, what amazes me is that’s always the first question, whether in my, sigh, iteration as an oak tree, I saw human sacrifices. Humans are so morbid. All life is sacrificed on the altar of time. The Druids had reasons of their own.”

“Did they eat, you know, the bodies?”

“Of course they ate the bodies. What do you take them for, sacreligious?”


This is part two in a series to be continued tomorrow, inschallah.

Part One is Here.


Lamont and his pal, Dude, are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Coming to a Cable Network Near You

“Here we are again at Monday.”


“Monday, again.”

“I can’t imagine you’re surprised by that.”

“Don’t you ever feel like a machine or something?”

“Often. But humans conjured up a system that more or less works, so I show up because, thanks be to God, I work, too.”

“Ha ha. So what’s going on today?”

“You’re interviewing that reincarnation guy to see if he’s believable enough to put on TV.”

“In this climate, sweet cheeks, anything is believable enough. Looks who’s in the White House.”

“I was trying not to think of that until Tuesday. Monday’s enough all by itself. Anyway, the reincarnation guy should be here any minute.”

“You’ve seen him. What do you think?”

“Personally, I think he’s legit. I can’t explain how that could be, but it’s logical that our molecules become part of the universe — earth in particular — when we die. Why shouldn’t the energy that is our experience be stored in those molecules?”

“Is THAT what reincarnation means? No Karma? No nearing Nirvana? Nothing spiritual? That’s pretty dry. Is that his schtick?”

“Yeah. Well you asked.”

“Did you make us coffee?”

“Did make YOU coffee? What do you think; this is the seventies?”

“Never mind.”

To Be Continued…


Lamont and his pal, Dude, are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.